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Railway chairman blames IRCTC, bats for new catering policy

NEW DELHI: With mounting complaints regarding quality of food served and cartels holding sway over the catering business, the ministry of railways on Friday shifted the blame on its wholly-owned subsidiary Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for the mess in catering management in trains and stations to justify the move of introducing a new catering policy.

Vivek Sahai, chairman of railway board, stressed that under the new policy, the department will work on a no-profit, no-gain principle and serve only cheap and quality food for millions of passengers.

He was at pains to justify the move as IRCTC was created around 10 years ago during Mamata Banerjee's first stint as railway minister and member (traffic) railway board as its chairman.

"Complaints over the quality of food have been on the rise and IRCTC was not addressing them properly. While IRCTC was responsible for quality of food, the blame was coming to the railways directly. Hence, it has been decided that board will take over the responsibility itself," Sahai said.

Sahai admitted that there is a dire need to introduce a new catering policy since the existing one failed to live upto its expectations.

He blamed lack of proper monitoring mechanism of IRCTC for the poor quality of food being served on board and at stations.

"Under the new system, the monitoring mechanism will be more effective. As per the new policy, zonal railways will be entrusted with the responsibility of both quality control and monitoring," he added.

IRCTC stands to lose Rs 400-crore worth of catering business, and will now be responsible for selling e-ticket and i-tickets and running `Rail Neer' -- the in-house mineral water business.

Clarifying that the PSU would not be wound up, Sahai said: "they will focus on tourism business and manage the food plazas. Tourism is a growing industry and there are excellent scope in it."

Source - Times of India

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